This Fourth of July, American Routes celebrates our nation’s birthday with two live concerts of all-American music. We’ll stop by the Ponderosa Stomp, dedicated to the “unsung heroes of rock n’ roll” for a good dose of rockabilly, soul, country and R&B classics, done by the originators themselves. Then it’s down the street to Preservation Hall, where bluegrass masters the Del McCoury Band mix it up with the Crescent City’s own purveyors of traditional jazz, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. So fire up the grill, pull out your lawn chair and turn up the radio for American Routes.
What happens when two guys from the East Coast head West with guitars? They become country singers, naturally. But the path there wasn’t so obvious. Buddy Miller has been everywhere: Austin, Los Angeles, New York and now Nashville. We’ll talk about his musical journey from outlaw to alt-country and how he’s carving out a new “old” style in the Music City. Then we’ll visit with Los Angeles poet and punk rocker John Doe of the band X, who has found inspiration in the Countrypolitan sounds of the 1960s.
Find the connections between the literary landscape and soundscape. We talk with Columbia University jazz scholar Robert O’Meally about the music writings of the Harlem Renaissance author best known for the novel Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison. And visit with songsmith and wordsmith James Talley.
Join us for the sounds and stories of estranged country singer and songwriter Robbie Fulks. And R&B vixen Bettye LaVette takes us from the Motor City to Muscle Shoals, and Beale Street to Bourbon Street, as she recounts nearly 50 years of singing R&B.
This week on American Routes we’re sharing some words of wisdom. Loretta Lynn blazed a trail through the male-dominated world of country music, bringing her experience as a mother and wife to songwriting and challenging stereotypes along the way. Rockabilly guitarist and singer Bill Kirchen might be best known for his time in Commander Cody’s band, and his hot licks on “Hot Rod Lincoln,” but we’ll learn more about the man called the “Titan of the Telecaster,” who won’t be pegged by genres. Then we’ll stop for a few environmentally sound Cajun tunes and visit with a band of brothers, Les Freres Michot.